The National Advocacy Service has said that over the past three years it has worked with over 100 people with disabilities under 65 who are living in elder care nursing homes because of a lack of State supports to enable them to live at home or in other more appropriate settings. 

It has also said that some clients are inappropriately accommodated in residential settings or stuck in acute hospitals because appropriate housing would not be available upon discharge. 

For eight years, the publicly-funded National Advocacy Service (NAS) has been providing free, independent and confidential representative advocacy to people with disabilities across the republic.

It is funded through the Citizens Information Board. 

Its annual report for last year records that half of its 900-odd full cases related to housing, while over one-fifth (22%) involved healthcare. 

Justice (12%), parenting with a disability (8%), and family issues (7%) accounted for the remainder of cases.

It said some clients with intellectual disabilities or autism face particular challenges relating to homelessness and that some are inappropriately accommodated in residential settings or stuck in acute hospitals because appropriate housing would not be available upon discharge.  

Others have difficulties navigating the social housing list. 

It said its advocates repeatedly encounter a lack of Health Service Executive resources for both personal assistance hours and home care packages for clients. 

2018 witnessed a 7% increase in full advocacy cases to 916. 

In total 12,881 hours of such advocacy work was undertaken with an average of 14 hours per case. 

There was also an 8% rise in the volume of information and short-term advocacy cases, which totalled 3,025. 

Last year the Department of Health asked the service to develop and establish a new, independent, Patient Advocacy Service during 2019 and the NAS plans to "go-live" with that at the end of next month. 

The Programme for Government promised the new service and it has the support of HIQA and the Ombudsman. 

What the NAS describes as "this crucial new service" will aim to support to people who wish to make a complaint about their experience in a publically funded Irish health care setting. 

NAS National Manager Louise Loughlin said the increased demand for advocacy services for people with disabilities across the State demonstrates the need for a shift in attitudes across society to recognise that people with disabilities have a capacity to make their own decisions equal to that of others.

She said the voice of people with disabilities should be at the heart of all decisions which affect their lives.